After a couple of lean years, things are looking up in Manhattan Beach. From 2009-2011, the Mustangs went 47-13 and won the L.A. division of the U.S. Lacrosse playoffs twice. The next three years, though, saw a combined record of 22-27 and two first-round playoff exits, including last year’s 22-6 loss at Newbury Park.
This year, Mira Costa returns nine seniors, has two juniors who are committed to play at NCAA D-I programs, and — for the first time in three seasons — won’t be breaking in a new coach. Aaron Karsh is back for his second season, hopefully bringing some stability to a program that used to set the standard for lacrosse in L.A.
The Bay League is never easy. Last year all four teams earned playoff spots, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that happened again this season. The proof for Mira Costa will be in how it handles a tougher nonleague schedule and how it competes with its Bay League rivals.
Top returning players: Junior middie Zane Crandall, committed to NCAA D-1 Lafayette, will be one of the top contributors on offense and a great defensive midfielder, as well, Karsh said. He also singled out sophomore middie Casey Bonner: “An outstanding athlete with a ton of potential for a breakout year.” Senior middie Nick Coons also returns after earning second-team All-Bay League honors last year, alongside Crandall.
Key newcomers: Goalkeeper John Van Sickle. Mira Costa surrendered 12.4 goals per game last season, 65th in the entire Southern Section and 38th in the L.A. division. Getting Van Sickle back should help in a big way. The junior, who is committed to Drexel, played at Mira Costa as a freshman, then moved out of the area last season. Now he’s back. A big-time goalie can make all the difference.
“I’m looking forward to what we can do having a full year together to work and really get everyone to buy into our system. The boys have put in a lot of effort during the offseason. Now it’s time to put that work to the test.”
— Coach Aaron Karsh
Key nonleague games: at Newport Harbor, March 11; at Culver City, March 13; vs. Newbury Park, March 30; at Crespi, April 1.